In the closing days of June I flew to Oregon for a retreat; five men spanning the ages from 40 – 68.  What we shared from the past was the fact that each of us had led Outward Bound programs.  What we share today unfolded.

It was like paddling a new river without map or guidebook.  Around each bend we discovered beautiful vistas.  We encountered and navigated churning rapids.  We also eddied out frequently to spend time in quiet pools of reflection.  There was no other destination than to be together and explore and nurture the “soft” side.

Sure, we played hard, as competitive guys will do – mountain biking, hiking and running.  We practiced a new form of yoga that had us all sweating and laughing profusely.  We ate well and with relish the meals we prepared.  We played some music and spent time in the sauna and hot tub.  Basically, we gave our little boys permission to run free from their entrapped shoulds of grown-up roles and responsibilities.

We also shared some of the tender underbelly of our lives.  We listened to each other.  We honored each other’s journeys, especially the traumas that had left their various scars on each of us.  All of us are coaches, business owners and OD consultants.  One of the gifts we gave to and received from each other was the undivided attention, perceptive questions and unconditional support of the other four competent professionals.

This post is meant as a tribute to my brothers for the time we shared and the depths we traveled together.  It is also meant as a hopeful reminder to the women and men who read it that guys can and do go to their “soft” side.  We realize that doing so helps us step more fully into the light of who we are as men and more effectively into our partnerships with those we love.